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VS Online Revamped, Renamed Codespaces in COVID-19 Remote Development Surge

Microsoft has renamed its Visual Studio Online cloud-powered development environment to Visual Studio Codespaces, also adding new features and lowering prices.

Visual Studio Online debuted as a public preview last November, and Microsoft has steadily improved the on-demand service, most recently tweaking it to accommodate the remote development surge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That global health crisis was front and center in this week's announcement of the name change and revamp, as program manager Nik Molnar said the dev team, like most everyone else, is adapting to social distancing and remote work.

In detailing the revamp, Molnar cited feedback about much quicker project onboarding, good performance, collaboration via Live Share and easily switching back and forth among the browser-based editor, Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio IDE.

"We learned that developers are finding Visual Studio Online to be much more than just an 'editor in the browser,'" he said. "They are saying that 'the capabilities of this cloud-hosted dev environment make it the space where I want to write all my code.'"

Along with other improvements added since the public preview debut, Molnar announced a new feature this week, a Basic instance type designed to help coders new to remote development. Providing 2 cores and 4 GB of RAM, it joins the Standard (4 cores, 8 GB of RAM) and Premium 8 cores, 16 GB RAM) instances, with a lower price.

Pricing now looks like this:
New Pricing
[Click on image for larger view.] New Pricing (source: Microsoft).
Other recent enhancements to the service include:
  • Support for bring-your-own Dockerfiles or images
  • Ability to change the instance size of environments
  • An improvement to self-hosted environment functionality, giving developers the ability to register any computer to Visual Studio Codespaces and connect to it from either VS Code or the browser-based editor

"Do you want a great experience working on your long-term project? Do it in a Codespace," Molnar said. "Need to quickly prototype a new feature or perform some short-term tasks (like reviewing pull requests)? Create a Codespace! Your Codespaces are simply the most productive space to code."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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